New York State Assembly Passes TRUST Act, Enables Congress to Request President Trump’s State Tax Returns

Assemblyman Buchwald’s bill empowers fellow legislators in Washington D.C. with the information they need to uphold the standard that no one is above the law
May 22, 2019

The New York State Assembly has passed Assemblyman David Buchwald’s TRUST Act enabling the tax oversight committees of the U.S. Congress to request New York State tax records for New York’s public officials, all the way up to the President of the United States. Current state law already allows New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance to share records with the I.R.S. and the tax departments of other states. The TRUST Act extends this record sharing to the three tax committees of the Congress for federal, state and local public officials along with the entities these officials own a significant share of or control.

One impact of the TRUST Act (A.7194-A, as updated by A.7750), is that it allows President Trump’s New York tax returns to be shared with Congressional tax committees at a time when the U.S. Treasury Department has turned down Congressional requests for similar federal tax records. All New York State residents, including the President, are required to report their worldwide income on their New York State returns.

“The New York State Legislature has stepped up to promote transparency while the U.S. Treasury Department has instead denied lawful requests for tax records from the House of Representatives,” said State Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-Westchester County). “Our state and federal governments have endured for over 200 years thanks to the system of checks and balances provided in our Constitution, and this bill is consistent with that tradition. I want to thank Senator Brad Hoylman, who sponsored this legislation in the Senate, and my Senate and Assembly colleagues who voted to ensure that no one is above the law.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), Senate sponsor of the TRUST Act, the first version of which passed the State Senate May 8, said: “I’m thrilled with the Assembly’s vote today in support of the TRUST Act, allowing the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to cooperate with Congressional tax committees requesting the state returns of public officials. With today’s vote, the State Legislature affirms Congress’s role as a co-equal branch of our federal government and the principle that nobody is above the law, not even the highest elected officials in the land. I’m extremely grateful to my partner in the Assembly, David Buchwald, for his leadership, and look forward to this bill being brought to the Governor’s desk for a signature as soon as possible.“

Congresswoman Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, who represents Rockland County and part of Westchester County, said,

“Americans deserve transparency, but this administration continues to obstruct and ignore Congress’ constitutional duty to conduct oversight. This bill is an example of state and federal governments working in tandem to ensure Congress can do its job and give the people of the United States clarity on the question of whether President Trump owes millions of dollars in taxes to New York State.”

Michael Kink ESQ., Executive Director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition said:

“Tens of thousands of New Yorkers marched across our state two years ago to make it clear: we won't tolerate a federal government that’s corrupt or compromised, and we've got to review President Trump’s tax returns to make sure. Assembly Member Buchwald and the Assembly Democratic Majority have worked hard to ensure New York state government will support proper, legal investigations of the President and top government officials. They deserve credit for standing up to the stonewalling in Washington, and for making sure that our Constitution's system of checks, balances and oversight will work properly.”

“Every presidential candidate since Richard Nixon has released his or her tax returns, except Donald Trump,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York. “Americans have the right to know if the President is putting his business empire, or the interests of the public, first. We commend the New York State Assembly and Senate for passing this common sense solution and urge the Governor to sign it into law.”

The TRUST Act specifically creates a mechanism to provide New York State tax returns and reports to the three tax committees of Congress, the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Earlier this year, support for transparency in tax returns grew quickly as over 90 members of the New York State Assembly, the State Legislature’s lower house, and a majority of State Senators co-sponsored a different bill on the same topic of tax return transparency called the “NY TRUTH Act” (A.1390). It would have directed New York State’s Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to publicly release the state income tax returns of officials elected in a statewide vote. The momentum from the NY TRUTH Act helped lead to the historic votes approving the TRUST Act.